Germany approves bill curbing online hate crime, fake news

Germany cracks down on foreign child marriages

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a cabinet meeting April 5, 2017, in Berlin to discuss social media legislation.

Germany has threatened to slap social media companies with huge fines if they do not act quickly enough to remove "hate speech" from their websites.

"The freedom of speech is only limited by the law".

The draft law still requires approval from parliament.

The bill is a response to the onslaught of fake news that emerged during the United States 2016 presidential election.

Since the arrival of around one million asylum seekers in Germany from 2015, the volume of xenophobic hate speech has exploded online.

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Merkel is now in the midst of campaigning hard for a forth term in office.

"The providers of social networks are responsible when their platforms are abused to spread hate criminality and criminal false news", said Maas in a released statement.

The proposed law would apply only within German borders.

He also said he would seek to push for similar rules at a European level. It now aims to update these rules for the social media age.

Beyond hate speech and fake news, the draft legislation also covers other illegal content, including child pornography and "terrorism-related activity".

"Germany considers itself a pioneer", said Markus Beckedahl, a prominent German Internet activist and Berlin-based blogger.

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"We can not accept anymore that companies in Germany don't abide by the law", Maas told German TV channel ARD.

The new legislation encountered criticism from Green Party politician Renate Kuenast, who told ARD "My fear, and that of many, is that the version [of the law] he is proposing, in the end, will lead to a severe limitation of freedom of speech since all that will be done is deleting, deleting, deleting".

"We do not accept the fact that companies in Germany do not adhere to the law".

And the number of deletes made by the social media companies hugely varied.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Government said on Monday that it was reviewing how to combat fake news as current laws are limited in tackling the issue.

"Just like on the streets, there is also no room for criminal incitement on social networks", Maas said.

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"My belief is we should rely on critical thinking to deal with things like hate speech and fake news because you [can] use your ability to reject things if the origins are suspect", said Cerf.

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